Fly Fishing for Beginners – Part 4 – Where to Go Fly Fishing

Welcome to episode #4 in the Fly Fishing for Beginners blog and video series. To quickly recap what we’ve covered so far, in episode #1, I answered the question, “What is fly fishing,” as there are many misconceptions. In episode #2 we explored the fascinating history of fly fishing. In episode #3 we looked at the wide variety of fish that you can catch with fly fishing, and in this 4th installment, I’ll share with you some ideas for finding great places to go fly fishing in your local area and beyond.

Evaluate Your Options

As I mentioned in the last episode in this series, no matter where you live, if there’s water nearby that has fish in it, you can most likely go after them with fly fishing gear, no matter if it’s a tiny pond, a lake, a beautiful mountain stream, a neighborhood creek, a big muddy river, or an ocean. Now depending on where you live, your nearby fishing locations might not have all the fancy fish that are on the covers of those glamourous fly fishing magazines. You might be limited to the native species of fish that are in your local bodies of water, along with any invasive species that might be present, or you might have the opportunity to go after introduced species of fish that have been stocked in your area. For example, many states around the country stock city and urban ponds with rainbow trout for the winter months. As I also mentioned in episode #3, don’t be bashful or embarrassed about going after the not-so-popular fish that live near you…no matter how big or small, no matter how common or uncommon, and no matter how beautiful or ugly! Some of those not so fashionable fish which may be plentiful in your area can actually be some of the most intelligent and most difficult of all to catch!  So again, throw all those preconceived notions that you may have out the window and open your mind to all the opportunities that you do have.

Alaska Fishing - how to plan a DIY Alaska fishing adventure

Have you ever heard the old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!” Well, that also applies to fishing. For example, here in the United States, many unfortunately consider the common carp a worthless trash fish. However, in various parts of Europe and Asia, the carp has been one of the most prized and esteemed fish for hundreds of years! I did a recent video on that topic if you’d like to learn more. As another example, in places like Alaska, some species of salmon that folks from the lower 48 and elsewhere would LOVE to pursue, are likewise considered by many locals as a waste of time to catch and a fish only worthy of being eaten by their dogs. Indeed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is the worthiness, dignity, and beauty of a fish! And again, some of those “worthless trash fish” can be the most difficult and most challenging of all to catch on fly fishing gear!

Finding Fly Fishing Opportunities Near You

As I mentioned in the last episode, the fly rod can be a catalyst for learning new skills, taking on new challenges, meeting new people, and traveling to new places. That’s the real fun of fly fishing! I’ve explored and fished areas all over the lower 48 states with my fly rod, many areas of Canada, and all over Alaska, and every new place is an exciting new adventure, no matter what kind of fish I catch and even if I don’t catch any fish at all. If you have a particular species of fish you want to go after or a certain location you want to travel to and explore with your fly rod, there’s most likely no shortage of information to point you in the right direction and service providers who can help you. But what about fishing locally? How can you find good places to fly fish in your own backyard without having to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on travel, lodging, transportation, out-of-state fishing permits, guides, and all the rest?

I’d be willing to bet that there are many fishing opportunities in your area that you most likely have no idea even exist, or, more specifically, that you would never have even considered as a possibility for fly fishing. Here in America, every state in the country has potentially great places where you could fly fish that are sometimes rarely if ever, publicized or talked about. As I mentioned earlier, if you have water nearby that has fish in it, you can most likely go after those fish with a fly rod…if you boldly cast aside all those preconceived notions and negative stereotypes of what constitutes a quality, worthy fly fishing experience.

For starters, visiting the offices or the websites of your local organizations such as Departments of Fish & Game, Conservation Departments, Departments of Natural Resources, State and National Parks Departments, and others, are all goldmines of information for things to do and places to fish in your area. Most of these organizations have maps, detailed visitors guides, and bucket loads of free materials about the natural resources, including fishing opportunities, that are in the area. Along those same lines, talking with the conservation agents or fisheries biologists who work for those organizations is another overlooked source of extremely valuable information. One quick phone call or email could provide you with priceless fishing intel! Additionally, contacting local fly fishing clubs, visiting local fly shops or bait shops, or even searching around on local fly fishing social media groups can set you on the path to discovering all the fishing opportunities you can handle!

Allow me to give you an example to illustrate my point: I grew up in Missouri and started fly fishing at a very young age, but mostly for bluegill, bass, and whatever else I could catch out of local ponds, rivers, and lakes. By the time I was a teenager though, I really wanted to start fly fishing for trout, but alas, Missouri was no good for trout. Or was it? As I began researching my options, I found out that Missouri was, in fact, a FANTASTIC place to fly fish for trout! The southern part of the state is loaded with world-class trout fishing opportunities along beautiful spring-fed streams and as well as larger river systems, all of which I had mostly never heard of and never knew existed! In fact, in more recent years, Missouri is even getting close to breaking the brown trout world record! That wild revelation of discovering all those trout fishing opportunities in my own state, some not more than an hour drive away, opened the door to an epic fly fishing adventure that I’m still enjoying decades later! Believe it or not, I’ve found a much greater variety of year-round fly fishing opportunities in Missouri than I have on Kodiak Island Alaska, where I lived for the better part of the past decade. Now not all those places in Missouri are as beautiful as fishing on Kodiak, and not all the fish are as pretty or tasty, but I have just as much fun going after the fish of my Midwest homeland, some of those fish are much more challenging to catch, and, I don’t have to worry about giant bears stealing my fish!

Trophy trout right in my own backyard! Who knew!?

So there you have it my friends, I hope that enlightens you a bit and gives you some ideas for where you can go fly fishing in your own area. In the next episode in this series, we’ll take a look at the essential fly fishing gear that you’ll need to get started.

Check out the video below to see more…